Friday, April 19, 2013

The Cult of the Amateur at its Worst

The last time I invoked Andrew Keen's concept of "the cult of the amateur" was when I was ranting against Stanford University's conference on "Innovative Journalism," which I saw as an attempt to undermine many of the most significant work practices of print journalism in the name of innovation. I thus take a certain grim satisfaction in the story written by David Lee, Technology Reporter for BBC News," about how the "crowdsourced investigation" that began after the Boston Marathon bombing when wrong in the worst possible way. As was the case in The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, about a group of vigilantes turning into a lynch mob, the story was all about the crowd uniting to identify someone who had nothing to do with the crime. The good news is that, in this particular case, the action did not result in an actual lynching; but it is too soon to come to any conclusions as to the impact that this act of vigilantism will have on either Sunil Tripathi or the members of his family. I just wish that those who claim to be professionals would shut up while the tedious process of investigation proceeds at its own pace, only taking control of the airwaves when they actually have news to report.

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